Finding a job during the pandemic can be daunting, especially if you need to take the first opportunity you find. For immediate help to meet your financial and essential needs while you job search, call 211 or visit to connect with a trained resource specialist – a real person – who can help you find local services and resources for things like paying rent/utilities or getting food.

Seeking help now can hopefully give you an opportunity to consider which jobs will meet your family’s needs, is something you’ll look forward to, and set you up for better opportunities in the future. Ask yourself these questions as you decide if a job opportunity is the best fit for you:

1. Does the job match my values and purpose?

Your one purpose right now might be to earn enough to take care of your family. But if you can, consider job opportunities that will bring you a sense of fulfillment.

It’s especially important to consider opportunities that will allow you to use your strengths and skills, and that match your values for how to conduct your work. These opportunities allow you to minimize the risk of quickly becoming frustrated or experience tension in your workplace.  For example, if you value open communication, make sure leadership is transparent with staff about how it is making decisions in response to the pandemic. If you value growth, see whether the organization offers professional development opportunities or promotions.

Project Iowa’s eight-week online course can help you determine your purpose and values, as well as support you in seeking employment.

Beginning in July 2020, United Way of Central Iowa’s Powered by Purpose program will offer a self-guided journey to help you better define and understand your personal purpose, and how it can play an important role in your health, career, and life.

2. Is the job going to help my family cover our monthly expenses?

Figure out your monthly costs for essential items, including food, housing, utilities, health care, and childcare, and then figure out the wage you’ll need to cover those items, accounting for taxes taken out of your pay check. The Financial Empowerment Center offers free resources and coaching to help you work through your finances.

Once you determine what wage you’ll need to earn, try to find opportunities that can offer that amount or more. If you can, negotiate. If the opportunity doesn’t offer what you’re asking, you may need to turn it down to seek a job that covers all your expenses.

3. Will the job meet all of my family’s needs?

Once offered a job, spend time looking at all the benefits offered and whether they improve your family’s overall financial well-being. In addition to wages, other important factors to consider are whether you can access health insurance and other health benefits, paid time off, or a flexible or stable schedule to navigate childcare.

4. Does the organization offer opportunities to grow?

The job you take now may not be your dream job, but there may be more opportunities in the future if the company pays for certifications or classes, or provides other educational opportunities that will allow you to grow personally and professionally.

5. Is the culture a fit for who you are?

Getting a feel for the company’s culture can be difficult without being able to visit in person, but think about questions to ask during an interview or cues you could watch for to help you determine whether you’d be a good fit and the company would be a good fit for you.

For example, if you’re an outgoing person, get a sense of how much people work in teams and how the company encourages building relationships among staff. If you have disclosed, up front, that you have a criminal record and the organization doesn’t acknowledge or accept your experience, you will be less likely to feel confident and accepted in working there.

Other factors to help determine an organization’s culture: the diversity of staff, dress code, policies in place, and specific efforts around diversity and inclusion.

Seek help in finding a job

For more tips on how to search for a job, prepare for an interview, and consider a job offer, visit Central Iowa Works’ Job Search and Preparation Guide.

Resources for Job Seekers

TAGS: Thriving Workforce

About The Author: Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch is a communications contractor for the Thriving Workforce initiative and is the former Strategic Communications Officer at United Way of Central Iowa.